Navigating Dubai Housing Affordability: A Global Perspective

The housing market has undergone significant changes over the past 20 years, especially in countries like the United States and Canada, making homeownership increasingly difficult. This growing unaffordability may be one factor driving more North Americans to consider investing in Dubai real estate.
Key Findings on Housing Affordability

Dubai Housing Affordability
Image Credit: Arabian Business

A recent study has captured the challenges faced by potential homebuyers by identifying several major cities as “impossibly unaffordable.”

High Costs of Housing

The study examined the relationship between average incomes and home prices, revealing that the pandemic-driven desire for homes with outdoor spaces. Restrictive land use policies, and increased investor activity have significantly driven up prices.

The annual Demographic International Housing Affordability report, which has tracked housing prices for two decades. Highlighted that cities on the US West Coast and in Hawaii dominate the top 10 list of the most unaffordable places. Notable cities include San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego in California, as well as Honolulu in Hawaii.

Outside the US, Australia also features prominently with cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide being particularly unaffordable.

Canada also ranks high on the list, with Vancouver and Toronto being labeled as “impossibly unaffordable.” The study noted that housing policies in these cities have contributed to soaring prices. Making it challenging for middle-class families to afford homes.

Topping the global list is Hong Kong, known for its compact apartments and high rental costs. Despite being one of the least affordable cities, Hong Kong has seen some decline in housing prices due to the pandemic and new national security laws.

Understanding the High Costs

The report measures affordability using a price-to-income ratio, which compares the median house price to the gross median household income. The shift to remote work during the pandemic increased demand for homes with more outdoor space, often located outside city centers. Land use policies aimed at preventing urban sprawl have limited housing supply, driving up prices further as investors entered the market seeking profits.

The middle class has been particularly affected by rising land costs. With restricted land availability contributing to the significant price hikes.

More Affordable Cities

For those seeking immediate relief, the report also identifies the most affordable cities among the 94 surveyed. In the US, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and St. Louis are noted for their affordability. In Canada, Edmonton and Calgary are more affordable options. While Blackpool, Lancashire, and Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and Perth and Brisbane in Australia, also rank as affordable cities. Dubai has recently been listed as a “fair buy” and underpriced by the UBS Bubble Index Report, so let’s discuss more of what makes Dubai a possible solution.

Why Dubai?

Given these global affordability challenges, Dubai emerges as an attractive alternative for real estate investment. Here’s why Dubai stands out:

  1. Vibrant Real Estate Market: Dubai’s real estate market is dynamic and continuously evolving, offering numerous opportunities for investors.
  2. High Rental Yields: Investors in Dubai can benefit from high rental yields compared to other global cities, making it a lucrative investment destination.
  3. Strong Economic Growth: Dubai’s robust economic growth and strategic location make it a hub for business and tourism, driving demand for real estate.
  4. World-Class Infrastructure: The city boasts advanced infrastructure, including modern transportation systems, luxury amenities, and iconic landmarks.
  5. Investor-Friendly Policies: Dubai offers favorable investment policies, including tax incentives, long-term visas for property investors, and streamlined property purchase processes.
  6. Diverse Investment Options: From luxurious waterfront properties to affordable housing projects. Dubai provides a wide range of real estate options to suit different investment needs.
  7. Safe and Stable Environment: Dubai is known for its safety, political stability, and high quality of life, making it an attractive place to live and invest.

Stay tuned to my blog and podcast, ‘The Dubai Connect,’ for more insights on Dubai’s real estate opportunities and the latest market trends.


This analysis is based on the findings from the Demographic International Housing Affordability report by researchers from Chapman University and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.


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